Areas to exercise patience

Patience, according to St. Augustine, is "the virtue by which we endure evils with a serene spirit". And he added: "lest by losing the serenity of the soul we abandon goods that will lead us to obtain greater ones ". This virtue leads us to bear the physical and moral sufferings of life in good spirits, for love of God, without complaint. We will often have to exercise it especially in the ordinary, perhaps in things that seem trivial: a defect that we cannot overcome, accepting that things do not go as we would like, unforeseen events that arise, the character of a person with whom we have to live at work, people who are well disposed but do not understand, traffic jams, delays in public transportation, unexpected calls that prevent us from finishing work on time, forgetfulness.... These are occasions to affirm humility, to make charity more refined.

Patience is a virtue quite different from mere passivity in the face of suffering; it is not a non-reaction or a simple endurance: it is part of the virtue of fortitude, and leads us to accept with serenity the pain and trials of life, great or small, as coming from the love of God. We then identify our will with that of the Lord, and this allows us to remain faithful in the midst of persecutions and trials, and is the foundation of the greatness of spirit and the joy of those who are sure of receiving greater future goods5.

The Christian must exercise this virtue in various areas. First of all, with oneself, since it is easy to become discouraged in the face of one's own defects, which are repeated over and over again, without being able to overcome them completely. It is necessary to know how to hope and to fight with perseverance, convinced that, as long as we keep on fighting, we are loving God. The overcoming of a defect or the acquisition of a virtue is not usually achieved through violent efforts, but through humility, trust in God, asking for more graces and greater docility. St. Francis de Sales affirmed that it is necessary to have patience with everyone, but first of all with oneself6.

Patience also with those to whom we relate more often, especially if, for whatever reason, we have to help them in their formation, in their illness.... It is necessary to take into account the defects of the people we deal with - often they are struggling hard to overcome them -, perhaps with their bad temper, lack of education, suspicions... which, especially when they are repeated frequently, could make us lack charity, break the coexistence or make ineffective our interest in helping them. Charity will help us to be patient, without failing to correct when it is the most appropriate and opportune moment. Waiting a while, smiling, giving a good answer to an impertinence can make our words reach the heart of those people, and they always reach the Heart of the Lord, who will look at us with special appreciation and friendship.

Patience with those events that come and that are contrary to us: sickness, poverty, excessive heat or cold..., the various misfortunes that occur in an ordinary day: the telephone that does not work or does not stop communicating, excessive traffic that makes us late for an important appointment, forgetting our work material, a visit that comes at the wrong time.... These are the adversities, perhaps not very transcendental, that could lead us to react with a lack of peace. The Lord awaits us there; in these small events we must be patient, a manifestation of the strong spirit of a Christian who has learned to sanctify all the small incidents of any given day.